Race, Religion, and Class: The Thought of Reverend George Freeman Bragg Jr.


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work


History and Geography


Master of Arts

Citation of Original Publication



George Freeman Bragg (1863-1940) was a black Episcopal priest and civil rights activist during the Progressive Era in America. He was also a brilliant yet complicated man whose thoughts and opinions were in tension with one another. Bragg’s writings are not one dimensional and lend themselves to various interpretations. Hence, it is possible to view him as either an accommodationist, a man imbued with a racial consciousness or an unwieldy blend of both. However, much of the available literature on Bragg presents a one-dimensional portrait of him. Celebrating his many civil rights struggles, these portraits ignore the sometimes contradictory and complex nature of his thought. Indeed, Bragg bears witness to historian Wilson J. Moses’s contention that all serious prolonged thinking eventually results in contradiction. Hence, the following thesis will critically examine the writings of Bragg in an effort to flesh out the complex character of his thought. It will also attempt to provide a workable explanation to explain the same. The writings of Bragg were not the only sources used to examine his thought. The works of historians Wilson J. Moses, Kevin K. Gaines, and Evelyn Higginbotham that focused on black elites, racial uplift ideology, and classism were indispensable to this study. Notwithstanding, there were a plethora of primary and secondary sources that undergirded this study and helped to socially contextualize and interrogate Bragg’s complex thought.